Consequence of farmers market closure: Extra $50 permit from county health department for alternate locations

Vendors who moved to a different location during the recent two-week suspension of Bloomington’s farmers market had to get a $50 temporary permit from the county health department.

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Susan Welsand, the Chile Woman, was exuberant on Saturday Aug. 3, 2019 at the alternate location for farmers market vendors behind the east-side Bloomingfoods in the former Kmart parking lot.  (Dave Askins/Beacon)

That was the news from Penny Caudill, the county’s health administrator, as delivered to Monroe County commissioners at their regular Wednesday morning meeting.

Permits from the health department for vending at a farmers market are issued to individual vendors not the market as a general site, Caudill told The Beacon.

Caudill said her department had reviewed whether it would be possible to waive the fee for the temporary event permits, which her department issued to the displaced vendors. It wasn’t possible, she said. Continue reading “Consequence of farmers market closure: Extra $50 permit from county health department for alternate locations”

City of Bloomington: Farmers market to reopen at usual time, place this Saturday

After announcing on July 29 that Bloomington’s farmers market would be suspended for the following two Saturdays, Mayor John Hamilton issued a press release on Tuesday Aug. 13 that announced the resumption of the farmers market.

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The view northwest towards the City of Bloomington’s farmers market venue from the Morton Street parking garage. In the foreground is part of the 2013 sculpture “Illuminated Fruit” by  Andrew Huddleston and Amy Brier (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The farmers market will re-open on Saturday, August 17 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Showers Common, the usual time and place.

The general background for the temporary market closure was described this way in the City’s initial press release: “Since the recent public discussion of ties between a vendor at the market and white nationalist causes and groups, the City has identified increasing threats to public safety.”

The press release also hinted at more concrete reasons: “…[I]nformation gathered identifying threats of specific individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence, present the potential for future clashes.”

Tuesday’s release describes several measures meant to improve security and make people feel safe:

  • Cameras to monitor the site
  • Two public streets will be closed to traffic during market hours. The idea is  to create a larger “comfort zone” for the market crowd. (Morton Street from 7th Street to just south of the Smallwood garage entrance, and 7th Street between Morton and the B-Line Trail; 8th Street will be closed west of the market to the entrance of the Cook Medical Center).
  • Police presence will be increased.
  • New “market ambassadors” will welcome market visitors.
  • New signage will indicate areas designated for flyering and publicize the market’s rules.

The press release says people who want to become “market ambassadors” should contact the city. Continue reading “City of Bloomington: Farmers market to reopen at usual time, place this Saturday”

Bloomington farmers market numbers dramatically down, Tuesday announcement on re-opening

Anecdotal reports of attendance being down this year at Bloomington’s farmers market were confirmed with some numbers  on Monday during a Facebook livestream event hosted by the mayor’s office.

Parks and recreation department administrator Paula McDevitt said there’d been 19,000 market visitors this July compared with 40,000 last year.

R Bar Annotated Farmers Market Participations

That’s consistent with the total figures to date reviewed by The Beacon.

The FB live-stream came during the two-week hiatus for the market, declared by Mayor John Hamilton due to public safety concerns.

During Monday’s FB live-stream, Hamilton said he would announce on Tuesday how the market would re-open. By Monday afternoon, the city had not confirmed that the market will be open as usual on Aug. 17. Continue reading “Bloomington farmers market numbers dramatically down, Tuesday announcement on re-opening”

Substitute farmers market behind Bloomingfoods helps fill in for first missing Saturday

The first of two non-market Saturdays is now in the books for the farmers market facility on Morton Street in downtown Bloomington, next to city hall.

Substituting for the usual location yesterday were several alternate spots. Of those, probably the most prominent was the parking lot of the former Kmart location off 3rd street, behind the east-side Bloomingfoods.

That’s where around 50 vendors listed on the welcome table’s roster and booth map were selling fresh produce from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Scenes from the substitute farmers market held on Saturday in the former Kmart parking lot behind Bloomingfoods. Aug. 3, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

At least a few hundred people were at the market when The Beacon dropped by around 10:30 a.m.

They’ll repeat that scene next Saturday, but return to downtown Bloomington the following week—if the City of Bloomington has been able to implement the safeguards it thinks are necessary to re-open the market.

Last Monday, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, announced a two-Saturday suspension of the downtown farmers market—citing threats to public safety: “[I]nformation gathered identifying threats of specific individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence, present the potential for future clashes.” Continue reading “Substitute farmers market behind Bloomingfoods helps fill in for first missing Saturday”

Bloomington press conference on farmers market covers First Amendment, gun laws, possible exclusion of a vendor

After announcing on Monday (July 29) that Bloomington’s farmers market would be suspended for the next two Saturdays, Mayor John Hamilton held a press conference on Wednesday morning to address the situation.

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Left is Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton. Right is farmers market vendor for 34 years, Linda Chapman of  Harvest Moon Flower Farm. July 31, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Monday’s press release gave the general background for the market closure: “Since the recent public discussion of ties between a vendor at the market and white nationalist causes and groups, the City has identified increasing threats to public safety.”

The press release also hinted at more concrete reasons: “…[I]nformation gathered identifying threats of specific individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence, present the potential for future clashes.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, when Hamilton and the city’s chief of police, Mike Diekhoff, responded to questions from the press on the topic of threats, they didn’t provide additional details on the exact nature of the threats.

Hamilton said, “The threats were enough to identify particular individuals that meant to us, we saw a threat of violence in the market. And given the realities that I talked about, we felt it was critical for public safety to hit pause.”

Hamilton led off the press conference with about 15 minutes worth of prepared remarks, then fielded questions, first mostly from the press, then from others.

Hamilton’s prepared remarks framed the issue of public safety in terms of two challenges: (1) Indiana’s permissive gun laws; and (2) “a toxic stew of bigotry and hatred, of intolerance and divisiveness, that is being brewed by many, all across the country, including our own President.” Continue reading “Bloomington press conference on farmers market covers First Amendment, gun laws, possible exclusion of a vendor”

Bloomington farmers market vendors firm up alternate spots after two-week cancellation of Saturday market

By Wednesday evening, vendors at the Bloomington farmers market were settling on a few different locations to sell their goods, after Mayor John Hamilton announced on Monday that the market would be closed for the next two Saturdays.

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In the center of the frame is Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, at the Tuesday farmers market on July 30, 2019.  The Tuesday market on Madison between 6th and 7th streets, which runs from 4 p.m to 7 p.m., will continue during the suspension of the Saturday market. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

As the reason for the temporary closure, Hamilton cited public safety concerns stemming from protests against a vendor believed to be associated with white-supremacist causes.

Vendors had some representation at a morning press conference held by the mayor, but many of the farmers who usually sell at the market were at the time working to find alternate locations.

One location previously reported by The Beacon as a potential site has been nailed down—the parking lot of the east-side Bloomingfoods, across from the old Kmart parking lot. That joins a spot on the northwest side of town at the Urban Air parking lot. [Update Aug. 1 at 2:07 p.m.: The Urban Air location is cancelled.] Continue reading “Bloomington farmers market vendors firm up alternate spots after two-week cancellation of Saturday market”

Vendors finding different Saturday locations after Bloomington suspends farmers market for two weeks over public safety concerns

Less than 24-hours after Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, announced the suspension of the city’s downtown farmers market for the next two Saturdays, market vendors have started coming up with a few possible alternate locations.

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A screenshot of the City of Bloomington’s online calendar.

One of them—to the northwest, at Smith Pike off SR-46 in Urban Air’s parking lot—is definite. [Update: Hanna emailed  The Beacon on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 1, to say it looks like most people are heading to Bloomingfoods/Kmart, so it’s cancelled.] Another definite location, on the east side of town at E. Bethel Lane, still has some details to be worked out. Another possible east-side location, in the old Kmart parking lot,  is not yet nailed down.

Updated 07-30-2019 at 6:04 pm: Bloomington Bagel Co. has posted a message on its FB page saying they’re looking for vendors to “adopt” offering free use of their patio space. The FB post directs vendors to contact Bloomington Parks staff for details.

The decision to shutter the market for two Saturdays came after weeks of increasing tension there, and concerns about public safety, when ties between one of the vendors, Schooner Creek Farm, and white-supremacist causes were publicized by community members. Last Saturday, Bloomington police arrested Cara Caddoo, an Indiana University professor of history, for holding a sign protesting the vendor, outside an area in the market that’s designated in the vendor’s handbook as “Information Alley.”

This Saturday and next, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., regular farmers market patrons who are accustomed to buying beef from Jeff Hanna’s Triple H Wagyu Cattle Company can find the characteristically highly-marbled meat sold in the parking lot of Urban Air on the northwest side of Bloomington.

It’s off SR-46 West, on the way to Ellettsville at Smith Pike and SR-46. Hanna had to clear a low hurdle to clear to get permission from Urban Air—he’s the owner. Hanna told The Beacon his landlord also thought it was a great idea and saw it as a kind of public service. His wife also supported the idea, Hanna said.

In a telephone interview, Hanna said he is inviting up to around 25 other vendors to join him—it’s just what the space can hold. The $25 apiece he’s asking them to pay will go to cover portable toilets, which he told The Beacon will cost $200. He’ll take people on a first-come-first-served basis. They don’t need to be regular farmers market vendors, he said, but he’s “not going to have a flea market, either.” He said, “It’s got to be produce, meat, flowers, whatever people sell at the market.”

His son’s food truck will be there, Hanna said, and he hopes to have someone with a breakfast-food type food truck, too. He’s reaching out personally to some other vendors who have become friends over the 15 years he’s been selling at the market. Hanna’s contact information is listed on the City of Bloomington’s farmers market vendor directory.

Mike Record, with New Ground Farm, a USDA-certified organic vegetable farm, emailed The Beacon to say they’ll have their wares at Bethel Farm Stop, on E. Bethel Lane, on the east side of town. He’s still working on pulling together the details. [This piece will be updated, as soon as they’re known.]

Cortland Carrington’s American Mushroom & Spice Co. sells mushrooms, honey, and herbs at the Bloomington Farmers Market. Carrington emailed The Beacon to say that an effort was underway to get permission to set up a temporary market at the old east-side Kmart parking lot, behind Bloomingfoods. That possibility was still pending as of Tuesday afternoon.

Jordan Meurer of Meurer’s Produce emailed to say he’ll be at Owen County Farmers Market in Spencer.

Continue reading “Vendors finding different Saturday locations after Bloomington suspends farmers market for two weeks over public safety concerns”

Press Release: City of Bloomington suspends farmers market

Below is a press release issued by the City of Bloomington just before 6 p.m. on Monday.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2019

Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market Suspended for Two Weeks

Bloomington, Ind. – Recent events at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market have raised concerns about public safety, and the City today announced the suspension of the Market for the next two Saturdays.

Since the recent public discussion of ties between a vendor at the market and white nationalist causes and groups, the City has identified increasing threats to public safety.

“As Mayor, I have spoken for our City to condemn white nationalism and white supremacists as a scourge on our country and our community, and to promise that we will do all we can to overcome their legacies and any current efforts,” said Mayor John Hamilton.  “We also want to assure that everyone knows that all are welcome in our inclusive Bloomington, and that our Farmers’ Market will embody those values of inclusion and welcoming, as well as be a safe space for all to gather, as our community expects every Saturday.” Continue reading “Press Release: City of Bloomington suspends farmers market”